Today, “Behind The Headlines” host Lee Camp speaks to Omali Yeshitela, a man raided by the FBI for the crime of being a black socialist. Together, the two discuss the revolutionary black liberation movement, U.S. imperialism, racism, and the corruption of the two-party system. In August of last year, the FBI raided the offices of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), with agents using flash-bang grenades at 5 am on a Friday to startle and arrest individuals inside its headquarters. Yeshitela helped found the APSP in 1972, at a time when the Black Liberation movement was being similarly quashed by government forces. The group’s mission is to advocate for the rights and self-determination of African people globally. The organization has been a sharp critic of the U.S. and NATO-backed war in Ukraine and a defender of poor nations threatened by American sanctions, coups, embargoes, and blockades.
There are strong indications that in early 2023, I, Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), founder of the Uhuru (“Freedom”) Movement, will be indicted, along with other Uhuru leaders and members, by the federal government of the United States. Using the bogus and slanderous charge that we are “Russian agents,” the U.S. government and its “Department of Justice” will attempt to put us on trial and imprison us for fighting for the liberation of African people in the U.S. and around the world. But they will fail. We will win. I am 81 years old. My political work for the last 60 years or so is influenced by the fact that in my entire life, nearing 100 years, I have not known a single day when my people were not experiencing oppression, exploitation and humiliation.
While the public endured months of campaign jostling by the capitalist Republican and Democratic party candidates in this U.S. midterm election, there are some self-styled revolutionaries and Pan-Africanists who peddle the propaganda of the bourgeoisie. Their message is a call for Black people to turnout to “save U.S. democracy” or else face certain doom at the hands of the Republican Party led by the ominous orange menace, Donald Trump. The concept of “fascism” is often bandied around with no regard for it as a historically constant condition for African descendants and Indigenous people. As always for the U.S. oligarchy, at stake is which wing of the duopoly will dominate the legislative branches of government. The Republicans need five seats to take control of the house and only one to control the senate.
Many eyebrows have been raised as a result of the surge to power of neo-fascists in Italy. Unfortunately, our community seemingly has the eyebrows of Whoopy Goldberg (meaning none) and thus far, the response has been radio silence. This is nothing new; since the Compromise of 1954 (not unlike the companion Compromise of 1850, which actually strengthened enslavers—contrary to advertisement—and instigated war) where in return for anti-Jim Crow concessions, tossed overboard were the internationalists among us-- Paul Robeson in the first place-- many of our leading organizations and intellectuals have steered clear of consistent global engagement. This approach was debilitated from its inception but now it borders on doom for to ignore global events in today’s world is veritably suicidal.
Our dear brother, leader, confidant, mentor and model servant of our people, Saladin Muhammad, joined our revolutionary ancestors on September 19, 2022 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Saladin was 76 and had been battling illness for a while. When our revolutionary elders leave this material world, we often say another giant has fallen as a testament to their contribution and the love that we have for them. But sometimes, that characterization is just not enough. This is one of those times. Brother Saladin occupied a category that only a few have occupied. As one of only a handful of strategic thinkers and organizers of our movement that had not retired (how does a member of an oppressed nation and class retire from revolution?) Saladin continued to provide the leadership that he had given for well over five decades.
Black faces in high places are dangerous because the masses get caught up in symbolism and style over substance. They become confused and fall for perceived power over real power. An example would be Plantation Manager Joe Biden. He has appointed close to two dozen African Americans (mostly women with European husbands and wives) to his cabinet and senior advisors—more than any other President (including the one he served under), and there has been no significant changes in the conditions we live under. Yet, because there is a Black Woman Vice President, a Black Woman Supreme Court Justice and Black Woman Press Secretary, many Black people, including activists, somehow equate that to “Black Girl Magic”.
Black August is a month-long commemoration of Black resistance against oppression, with an emphasis on Black freedom fighters and political prisoners. To this day, dozens of Black freedom fighters remain incarcerated in US prisons after decades. As Black August gains more mainstream currency, many activists want to make sure its original purpose in uplifting Black resistance and the ongoing struggle to free political prisoners is not erased. The Jericho Movement is an organization fighting for amnesty and freedom for all political prisoners, from Leonard Peltier to Mutulu Shakur. On this episode of Rattling the Bars, Jihad Abdulmumit and Paulette Dauteuil of the Jericho Movement speak with co-host Mansa Musa about the work of their organization and the significance of Black August.
My very first recollection of becoming aware of the need to do something to change this society happened when I was 11 years old. I was on a city bus in San Francisco traveling from school back to my neighborhood. The bus was extremely crowded. At one point, four teenage African (Black) young men rapidly boarded the crowded bus. They were each carrying firearms and I recognized all of them immediately as hell raisers from the neighborhood. They proceeded to force the riders to empty their wallets, purses, jewelry, etc., into garbage bags. They didn’t waste any time with me. They didn’t even look in my direction, or at least that’s what I thought. When they started to disembark the bus, one of them reached over towards me, slapped me across the face, and yelled towards me “don’t say s - - !” Then they were gone. Like the other traumatized passengers, I sat there frozen in fear.
As far back in history as the period of enslavement of African people in North America, resistance and rebellion has been met with retaliatory repression from the ruling interests. Freedom fighters such as Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, among many others named and unknown, have been either brutally executed or left with no alternative other than to seek flight from oppression. This same legacy of confinement, brutality and lynching continued into the post-slavery era of the 20th and 21st centuries. Between the 1880s and the Great Depression of the 1930s, thousands of African Americans were extra-judicially murdered by mobs of law-enforcement agents and vigilantes.
On July 29, the FBI conducted a surprise raid on the homes and offices of leaders of the African People's Socialist Party and Uhuru Solidarity Movement (APSP-Uhuru) in Florida and Missouri under the pretext that they were co-conspirators in an indictment of a Russian national, Alexander Ionov. In the raid, documents and electronic devices were stolen. The raid was coordinated with the Biden Administration. Clearing the FOG speaks with Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the APSP - Uhuru about the raid and the broader implications of it for activists in the United States. This raid is connected to the anti-Russian narrative that has been developed in the US to justify the conflict in Ukraine and it sends a warning to all who dare to work for justice and speak the truth. Visit APSPUhuru.org to find out how to show your support.
On July 29, 2022, the FBI raided the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Uhuru Solidarity Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The raids were connected with the indictment of a Russian national who is accused of attempting to “cause turmoil in the United States” by engaging with “Unindicted Co-Conspirators” to act as agents of the Russian Federation. The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) is the organization targeted by the FBI for a very simple reason. It is a Black organization which has dared to confront and oppose U.S. imperialism. The alleged connection with the Russian government kills two birds with one stone. The Russiagate hoax is continually resuscitated as it gives new life to claims of election and other interference and Black people’s organizations are as always the first to be targeted by the State.
It has been one year since the death of Black Agenda Report Executive Editor, Glen Ford. The turbulence of the past year has been as intense as Glen Ford’s loss to the movement. President Joe Biden is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Inflation and recession loom over a flailing U.S. capitalist system. A U.S.-led imperialist war with Russia and China is closer than it has ever been and Black America is no better off with a Democrat controlling the White House. Such conditions demand that we remember and emulate Glen Ford’s tireless contributions to the Black liberation, peace, and socialist movement. Ford was a student of revolution. Every word written and spoken by Ford was done in the name of developing a movement capable of bringing about the end of the American Empire.
After sixty-one years, the gold tooth of the assassinated Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba has been returned to his family and laid to rest. It is the only part of him that remains. After his brutal murder in 1961, Lumumba’s tooth was pocketed by a Belgian police officer and later held captive by the Belgian government. Its repatriation was preceded by a grotesque ‘colonial guilt’ show, in which Belgian King Phillipe expressed his ‘deepest regrets for those wounds of the past’. The King of the Belgians did not go so far as to formally apologize, nor did he offer reparations for the devastation inflicted upon Congo by Belgium. These two events so close in proximity illustrate clearly that despite supposed ‘decolonization’, Congo continues to be ensnared in the grasp of its colonial oppressors.